The API economy is only going to be as strong as the quality of the APIs that enable it. Unfortunately, not all APIs are created equal in terms of quality, which collectively tends to act like a drag on the API economy.
Looking to foster the development of higher quality APIs, Apigee today at its user conference unveiled an open source project, dubbed Volos, that provides a set of modules based on the Node.js development framework that Apigee recently announced it would support.
Img Credit: iloveapis2013.com
According to Apigee chief architect Greg Brail, the recent rapid adoption of Node.js makes it an ideal platform for creating a set of tools that allows organizations to capture and then reuse patterns in high-quality APIs that include, for example, support for OAuth 2.0 authorization, API key validation, quota management, and caching.
Brail says that beyond simply managing APIs Apigee discerned that developers needed help actually creating APIs. The challenge is that the existing low level tools being used don’t make it easy for developers to reuse proven patterns that have already stood the test of time.
Rather than being another API framework, Volos is designed to work with any API or Web application framework that supports Node.js. Available on Github, developers can choose to configure Volos to run in a standalone mode that relies entirely on open-source components or it can be integrated with the newly re-christened Apigee Enterprise management platform for managing APIs.
Apigee and other vendors are moving to address one of the core problems holding back the expansion of the API economy. Too many of the APIs being exposed are so brittle they either break or don’t expose enough data to actually be useful. The end result is a lot of skepticism concerning whether a fledgling API economy is actually viable given all the inconsistencies that exist across different API implementations.
But as the quality of APIs continues to improve it’s clear that organizations that implement high quality APIs are experiencing tangible economic benefits. In fact, a recent report from the industry analyst firm Saugatuck Technology found that “the array of integrations available via APIs between a variety of both consumer and enterprise applications has become a critical facet of an application's worthiness in any workflow or business – especially when they reduce the necessity for manual data entry, retrieval, or synchronization.”
The challenge, of course, is finding a way to make it simple enough to develop the high-quality APIs that will be needed to fuel the growth of the API economy at scale.